February 16, 2022

Day

UCU clergy reflect on former Archbishop Janani Luwum

Today, February 16, 2022, marks the 45th Anniversary of the martyrdom of Archbishop Janani Luwum. The former Archbishop is celebrated for upholding biblical truth and justice to his very last breath, at a time when standing by the truth was lethal. Jimmy Siyasa caught up with clerics serving at Uganda Christian University (UCU), to reflect on his ministry and Christian legacy:

First, he embodies what it means to have faith with conviction. That someone could die for something that they believe in; justice, biblical truth, faithfulness to the Gospel. That is what we believe he died for. Second, in the face of death at gunpoint, he did not renounce what he stood for. And, whenever we celebrate Janan Luwum, it is an invitation to reevaluate our Christian conviction. As we celebrate him, let us go and be Christians of conviction.

The Rev. Eng. Paul Wasswa Ssembiro- UCU Chaplain
The Rev. Walter Ocen (L) interacts with the Rt. Rev. Henry Luke Orombi (R). Photo/ Jimmy Siyasa

Just like some of his contemporaries of the 20th century such as; Martin Luther King of USA, Maximilian Kolbe of Poland, Dietrich Bonhoeffer of Germany, and Oscar Romero of El Salvador, Janani Luwum demonstrated the need to remain a servant leader even within a life-threatening context. He advocated for social justice and confronted the totalitarian, authoritarian, and narcissistic regime of then the President of the Republic of Uganda Idi Amin Dada. His consistent and persistent love-driven approach to advocacy for the fundamental, inherent human rights and dignity of Ugandans, unfortunately, led to his brutal murder by Amin. Yet, even in his death, Janani’s legacy, service, sacrifice, dedication for the welfare of “others” remains alive, tall and firm. However, the most important question to ask is: How will his legacy affect the present leaders in Uganda and beyond, to advocate for an inclusive, equitable, just, and compassionate society that promotes collective human flourishing rather than egotistical individuals’ flourishing?

The Rev. Walter Ocen- Graduate intern at Chaplaincy attached to UCU School of Medicine

Archbishop Janan Luwum is an outstanding figure and influential leader in the Church of Africa, more so in Uganda. I refer to him as a martyr in the Church of Uganda. Luwum was a suffering servant of prayer and intercession for his Church and the world: He is a servant of peace and cried out to God for peace to reign, even under the brutality of Amin’s reign.
Only a courageous believer like Luwum could stand the face of Amin with outstanding confidence, courage, and faith in God to overcome the evil arrows of the enemy ” Satan” himself. Luwum gives us a picture of how God was ready to use Joshua to lead His people to occupy the land of Canaan (Joshua 1:6&9).
Janan is a figure of peace-making. He never was willing to reveal any persons and sacrifice them to Amin but he gave himself to face death only for others to have peace. The sermon on the mount by Jesus declares blessings for those who are peacemakers and who face persecution (Matt.5:9,10).
We Christian leaders of today should standout have such in Ministry. He teaches us to stand for the truth, and nothing but scriptural truth.
Religious leaders should be faithful to the Word and not accept any bribes or change statements for their selfish desires or due to fear of any brutality or death. Nothing whatsoever should separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:37-39). Therefore, his death on that fateful day became a seed to the Church in Uganda and worldwide, but most importantly, the start of the downfall of Amin and his evil reign. Today, Christians are still being strengthened in the Word because of his testimony.

The Rev. Capt. Esther Wabulo- Church Relations officer

The annual celebration took place at the National Ceremonial Grounds – Kololo, under the theme, Hope beyond affliction (Lamentations 3:21-24). The Most Rev Dr. Stephen Samuel Kaziimba Mugalu, Archbishop of Church of Uganda will be the Main Celebrant while Rt Rev Wilson Kitara the Bishop of Kitgum Diocese will be the leader of Service. His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni the President of the Republic of Uganda was the Chief Guest.

Background

Janani Luwum was born in 1922 in Mucwini, Chua, to Eliya Okello and Aireni Aciro. His father was a convert to Christianity. Janani was sent to school and eventually became a schoolteacher.

In 1948 Janani accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Saviour.  His conversion was so deep that he gave up teaching to join Church ministry full-time.  He became very active in the East African revival movement and became a lay reader, then a deacon, and then a priest in 1956. He taught at Buwalasi Theological College and later became its Principal. In 1969 he was consecrated bishop of Northern and in 1974 Janani Luwum became Archbishop of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Boga-Zaire (Eastern DR Congo).

Archbishop Janani Luwum was killed on February 16, 1977.

Excerpt from Church of Uganda based on the accounts of the Late James Kiefe (American Church biographer), Bp Festo Kivengere, and other recorded testimonials.

UCU law alumnus eager to flatten crime curve in Nansana

By Joseph Lagen
At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic that included business and education lockdowns in Uganda, the Uganda Christian University (UCU) Financial Aid Office put out an advert, calling for applications for financial relief. For some students who were stuck and unable to pay their tuition fees, help was possible. The benefactor was Uganda Partners, a USA-based organization that provides material and spiritual support for students through sponsorship.

When Mpyangu Denis Swanyi, at the time a final year student at UCU, saw the advert, he did not hesitate to apply. As a result of that action, Mpyangu is a graduate. He was among the 468 students who received a Bachelor of Laws degree in 2021.

“I often wondered where my tuition fee would come from. Thank God, the angelic Uganda Partners was there in my time of need,” Mpyangu says, adding: “May the good Lord reward those kind hearts.” 

The gesture by the Uganda Partners has tickled a charitable spirit in Mpyangu. He could not even wait for his graduation before rolling out his benevolent cause. At Mpyangu’s area of residence, Nansana, near Kampala, he has brought together youthful residents against a burgeoning evil.

Ugandans, who are familiar with Nansana Division in Uganda, know it is a cesspool of crime. It registered “the highest number of motorcycle thefts in 2020,” according to the 2020 Annual crime report.

Mpyangu, right, poses with his classmate and fellow graduate, Isaac Ecema. Both graduated with the same degree on the same day. Photo/Jimmy Siyasa

“I initiated a community coalition called Nansana Division Coalition Against Drugs. The initiative offers peer-to-peer education and advocacy for a drug-free generation,” says Mpyangu, who hopes to use the knowledge he gained at school to build a better community and next generation.

He is also a frequent guest at one of the local community radio stations, Tiger FM, where he broadcasts the same lifestyle message and solicits volunteers for the same cause. 

But why did Mpyangu choose UCU as his university of choice for his bachelor’s degree? 

 “With its Christian values and client centeredness,” Mpyangu says “there is no university in Uganda that is as friendly and welcoming as UCU.” 

“I was further attracted by their excellent service and the good reputation their law faculty has built over time.” Of the 3,368 students who graduated on October 22, 2021, 14% received Bachelor of Laws.

Mpyangu says he was a big beneficiary of the cohesion among students at UCU, as well as staff members.

Coming from a large family of 15 children – both nuclear and extended – the third born in the family says raising the $1,000 tuition fees twice a year was not an easy task for his family. Mpyangu says on more than one occasion, he was rescued financially by Good Samaritans.

To practice law in Uganda, one must attain a Diploma in Legal Practice at Uganda’s Law Development Centre. Mpyangu has enrolled for that course. He says after the diploma course, he hopes to acquire a master’s and PhD in law one day to help him argue cases in court from a more informed point of view.